Monday, December 28, 2015

Dad's old Concert Tone Banjo

I tuned Dad's old Fender Concert Tone banjo EBGD so Julie could play it like a tenor guitar.   Dad would have loved that.  He'd love her too.  

So we sat there in bed Christmas morning, all snowed in, playing banjo and mandolin together and drinking our morning coffee.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

People don't laugh when they are alone

The strangest thing.  People growing up and morphing into an older version of their high school self.  Men who try and maintain that same hair cut they sported in their senior photos.  Unwilling to change the radio station, stuck on that same classic rock and roll.  Listening to Hotel California and becoming the song.

And yet the young folk.. Covered in ink and glued to their phones.  How many funny videos can there possibly be?  Don't get me wrong, I like to watch the odd cat fashion show video from time to time.  Will they be at all like me? In ten years nostalgic for their old I_phone and all of the funny dog videos they used to watch. Or is it just impossible for me to ever understand?

I think I'd rather spend my online time reading reviews of Kirby vacuum cleaner salesmen, and find out who was able to talk the guy down to the best possible deal in the comments section.  Who could talk the guy down to only $800.  That seems to be as low as you can talk them down.  I saw a Kirby in a thrift store for $40 the other day.  I would have bought it but I already have one.  I've heard it said that a Kirby and a Royal are the best built cleaners you can buy.  Try telling that to the guy who just bought a Dyson.  What is going to happen when carpet goes out of style?

And what is going to happen to all of these stainless refrigerators when they go out of style?.. Well they will probably quit working before they go out of style.. I remember telling one of my friends years ago how I loved stainless steel sinks.  I guess that's not the same thing..

I've heard it said that people don't laugh when they are alone. I don't think that's true, but maybe that's why everyone is glued to their phone now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Volkswagen diesel emission

Funny this should come up now.  In the last week the fall weather has been really nice.  Often the only times I get to be outside are to and from work.  I greatly value my time outside.  So I drive to work with my windows down or I ride my bike.  I just want to be in the fresh air for a while.  

I don't hate smokers, or carry on about them but I really don't  like following one in my car or having one go by while I'm on my bike.  I just want to value the way the morning smells or the fall air after work.  Someone smoking in a car will blow their smoke out and then I don't smell the air, I smell their smoke.  That happens every time I ride my bike.

That's one thing,  but what is worse are diesel trucks.  I have to say that I can't remember having a problem with a VW, but the trucks here are really bad.  I hate getting behind one on the way to work because they are usually going the same direction I am.  It just makes me feel ill.  I go from enjoying the morning air to rolling up the windows too late and cursing them all the way to work for robbing me of my time in the fresh air.  And why in the world are people driving giant trucks to work that are big enough to haul freight?  I can understand towing a trailer or something but not just driving it to work.

The other day on my way to work I got behind a Cummins powered Dodge and had to follow that black cloud all the way to work.  Couldn't have my windows down.  Then on my lunch hour, I was unfortunate enough to get behind this older guy and his wife in a giant diesel Ford Super Duty. They were in no hurry so I'm sure they didn't really have to be anywhere.  Again, windows up the whole way.  It seems to happen almost every day with these trucks.  Volkswagens, not so much.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Open letter to Chrysler Jeep and NHTSA


Dear Chrysler Jeep,

Stop sending me these worthless recall notices about my Jeep.  And shame on NHTSA for going along with this recall solution.

The problem: They put a Pinto exploding gas tank in Jeep models.

The solution:  They want to put a "trailer hitch" (that isn't designed to tow a trailer) on the back of the jeep to protect the gas tank.

The problems with that:

1. It won't keep the tank from exploding.

2. You can't tow a trailer with it and yet it has a 2 inch receiver on it.  Dear NHTSA, How many people do you think in the future when the safety decal on the phoney hitch is long gone are going to hook a boat or a trailer to these Jeeps with the so called "trailer hitch" that isn't designed to tow a trailer? It doesn't really solve the gas tank explosion problem, just adds another potential safety risk to our highways.

3. People don't know the hitch can't be used for towing until it is installed or find out like I did reading jeep forums.

4. They won't reimburse you if you've installed a quality and functional aftermarket trailer hitch.  But it's OK for them to put phoney hitches on all of these Jeeps.  Good grief!

I got on the waiting list at the local dealership and after months of not hearing anything I got tired of being on the waiting list, and tired of calling the service manager who clearly didn't want to deal with the problem, so I bought a class IV Draw-Tite hitch and installed it myself to proper specifications.  I thought maybe I'd be reimbursed. Save Jeep the problem, have a decent functional hitch and all they have to do is pay me the cost of the hitch. But no.

I sent in the receipt for the hitch to the reimbursement center.  Then I got a phone call.  At first the guy on the phone tried to say I didn't have proof of payment.  Which I pointed out as I kept an exact copy on my desk.  Only then he agreed I had proof of payment. (it was clear at that point they are trained to get out of paying out)  Then he said he had to talk to his manager.  She came on the line and said you have to install an OEM Jeep hitch and you can't get those.  How convenient for Jeep.  I couldn't even get the phoney one they are making for the recall.  I was told the wait "would be a while". So no reimbursement. They seemed to do everything they can to not pay out and not to take care of the problem.

Now they are offering a gift card for $100 for your inconvenience..  But you have to go in and have them evaluate your Jeep.  Like that would ever happen...

Well you aren't getting your hands on my Jeep or my new Class IV hitch!!  Stop sending me these stupid recall notices and just send me the $100.  Better yet, send me the cost of the new and quality hitch I bought.  I'll be able to afford a decent obituary for myself with that.

Shame on Chrysler, and  shame on NHTSA for going along with this farce.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Learning to ride a bike

I had the pleasure of teaching Queenie's son how to ride a bike the other day. Now there's one more convert on the planet and we can all go for rides together.  The first person I've ever taught how to ride so it was a pretty big deal for all of us.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Light Pollution

One of the things that has really been bothering me lately is light pollution.  I remember as a kid growing up at Flathead Lake how amazing the stars were at night up there.  That was part of what was cool about being at the lake.  Now more and more people have moved in and what was once a remote location with very few people has become almost a city.

Recently a neighbor built a large shop on a property not far from my little cabin.  It has lights between each bay and they often are left on at night.  It is lit up all the way around except for the back and the lights are really bright.  Paying for the electricity is no big deal to a lot of these folks.  They have so much money that energy conservation isn't a consideration for them.  The problem with all of these lights is that they don't just light up their own property they shine across several properties including mine.  It's so bright I put up a black army blanket over my already dark curtain and the light still bleeds through the sides into my bedroom at night.

It's one thing to light up your own property, but it's another to impose that light on someone else.  You don't or at least shouldn't have that right.  I'm reading a book called The End of Night by Paul Bogard.  The book defines that situation as "light trespass".  If you must leave lights on at least use fixtures that direct the light down. My neighbor here in Spokanistan built a giant shop behind my house.  On that shop he put a giant bright light that lights up my back yard and the back of my house and also the neighbors on the other side of him.  So no matter if I go to Montana or stay here in Spokanistan I've have someone's light pollution to deal with.

Here's a pic of me in Montana back in the day with my future cabin in the background. The stars used to go all the way down to the horizon in all directions.  I guess those days are gone, and I noticed that it's getting harder and harder to see the milky way up there thanks to all of the light pollution.  It will be gone soon too.  How very sad...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ski season 2015

To say that this was the worst ski season I've had ever is an understatement.. Far worse than 2007 I think it was.  I've never seen it so bad in the northwest.  Ah well, at least I didn't get hurt.  But it was a little hard to avoid the rocks.  The coverage was pretty thin in places as you can see in the photo above.  My shadow on the ski slope below taken from the lift.
Here's a picture of Flathead Lake I took last weekend. Well I guess it's time to think about spring things, summer things, and lawn mowing.. If only I didn't have to work. Oh wait a minute, I forgot,. I get 15 days off a year, and I better not complain.  My manager recently said, "isn't that enough time for you to get done what you need to get done!?" and I'm like, well no, not really..  They don't understand that a little more time off a year would keep us from hating each other as much as we do, and we'd probably be a lot more productive.  All day long I think about what I could do after work, then when 5 o'clock rolls around I'm often so burned out and beat up that all I want to do is just sit down and drink a beer. 

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Speaker phone ambush

I've been in a bit of a blogging lull.  More and more I find myself wanting to be in places where there are less people around.  I'm not sure if that's healthy or not.  It's one thing to maintain your own sanity but it's another to put up with everyone else's insanity.  Not that I think I'm sane and everyone else is insane.. nothing like that..  

Anyway, the other day someone in my family speaker phone ambushed me.  Called me on speaker phone with another family member listening in the background and didn't tell me.  When I asked if that person was there and could I talk to them I was told I was on speaker and they were right there..  I didn't think that was very cool.  It's something I'd never do.

One of my friends once said that I try and avoid conflict and I think that's true.  So in this conversation I didn't fall into any traps that may have been set for me.  I avoided saying something that would allow the person calling me to be able to fault me, and yet now I haven't been able to let this go.  The more I thought about it the more it bothered me.  This family member lost my trust a few years back.  I've tried to overlook it, and get past it.  Forgive and forget, right?  Then something like this happens and I remember why that trust was lost.

Not sure how to tie this post up.  I guess there are some things that once broken can't be fully repaired.  They are like that ceramic pot I once talked about that fell off of the shelf and broke into pieces.  You can try and glue it back together and put it back up on the shelf, and if you stand back far enough you may not notice.  But if you get very close to it all of the faults show back up. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Mid Century Starburst Clock

I picked up this starburst clock for $28 in an antique store up in Canada.  It's really quite something.. And it keeps good time and looks good with my dinette.  Makes you feel like the sun is out every morning.

Thinking of clocks.., I was talking to a co-worker a few years ago.  He said he had a job printing circuit boards.  The place he did this was in the top of an old industrial building and very depressing.  I took a tour of that place one time.  All of these guys were standing at printing tables in a make shift room with a very low ceiling.  It was really depressing in there.  He said they had to stand at those tables and print the same solder mask over and over all day long day after day and it was just like being in prison. There was a school like clock on the wall and it seemed to be going so very slow.

Well I can't really put a good spin on that story other than to say they needed a clock like this one to make them feel a little better.

I have another clock story.. One time in 7th grade a girl in my class waited until our elderly teacher who kept nodding out toward the end of the day, left the room then she got up on a cabinet and set the clock forward a half hour or so.  He returned and didn't notice.  Then when the next bell rang she or someone said Mr, Oldguy it's 3:30! and he came to life, looked up at the clock, lined us all up and we left for the day.. Nobody said anything.

He figured it out after we all left and we had to make up the time and more but it was really funny.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Elk Crossing

Went up to Canada to bring in the new year with Queenie.  Haven't blogged for a while.  Not sure why, I guess part of it was that I broke the 18 to 55 VR lens on my Nikon.  One of the kit lenses that comes with the camera so now I need to get a new lens.  I still have my point and shoots but haven't been taking many pics.  Here's one of the elk heading north across the highway in BC.

We watched the movie Nebraska and I can honestly say that my family is far stranger than the people in that picture.  Wasn't even close.. Still it was an entertaining film.

It was cold in Canada by my standards.. When I pumped gas into the jeep it -17 deg F.  It was almost a life or death situation at the gas pump.  I was thinking, they will find the dude from the states frozen in place at the gas pump.  Probably have a picture of me in the paper.  Before I left Spokanistan it was 5 above 0 F, and everyone was going on about how cold it was.  That's nothing for the folks up in Canada, and they wouldn't even take notice.  It has to get down to 30 below before they start going to Arizona.

 I took my guitar, mandolin and banjo on my trip with me.  I ended up playing the mandolin and the banjo but not the guitar.. That's cool for me because I'm defaulting to those and not the guitar.  I did sell my resonator banjo and my cheap mandolin to raise money to buy a much better two piece flange banjo that converts from resonator to open back.  Pretty stoked about that.  I think I was very lucky to sell the old ones online.  Everyone plays guitar but not that many people play banjo and mando.  It's really hard to sell them with so many options these days.  I figured out that good photos and descriptions help selling online.  Plus the Christmas season doesn't hurt either.

Oh and I also bought a cool vintage mid century mod starburst clock at an antique store.  Post a pic of that later.

Happy New Year.